Fans of Minnesota hockey will have a lot to watch out for in the 2014 NCAA Men’s Hockey Tournament, which got underway this afternoon. Three Minnesota schools are making appearances, including the #1-ranked Gophers, the St. Cloud State Huskies — fresh off their debut appearance in the Frozen Four last year, and the Minnesota State Mankato Mavericks.
Of particular interest to Gone Puck Wild readers will be the two Minnesota Wild prospects playing tomorrow, Notre Dame sophomore Mario Lucia (son of Gopher coach Don Lucia) and Boston College freshman Adam Gilmour.
Both are likely a ways from making the jump to pro hockey at any level, yet they are a part of the incoming size promised by Wild GM Chuck Fletcher and Wild scouts. You may remember that Fletcher said, following this season’s trade for Matt Moulson, “First you try to get skill, then hopefully you can add some size.”
Both forwards are 6’3”, with Lucia weighing in at 202 and Gilmour listed at 193. With a few years of bulking up they could emerge as some solid power forwards.
Lucia, selected #60 overall in the 2011 draft, is a product of Minnesota high school hockey as well. (Can you get more MN than playing high school hockey in state, having your dad be a legendary collegiate coach, and getting drafted by the Wild?) He’s had a strong sophomore campaign, especially after starting his freshman season with a broken leg. He’s accumulated 16 goals and 14 assists through 39 games for Fighting Irish this year.
The Irish will faceoff at 9pm EST tomorrow at Xcel Energy Center against a bruising St. Cloud State team who is hoping to make a repeat appearance in the Frozen Four. They’ve surprised some expectation going 23-14-2 after losing two star seniors from last season’s team. Brian Hanowski moved on to the Calgary Flames, playing eight games with them this season, and 2013 Hobey Baker winner Drew LeBlanc is now with the Chicago Blackhawks, though he hasn’t made an appearance this season.
Gilmour, selected #98 overall in 2012, has seen a fair amount of success this season as well, with seven goals and 12 assists through 37 games. His Boston College Eagles will take on Denver tomorrow at 4pm EST.
For fans of the Gophers, you can catch them taking on Robert Morris tomorrow at 5:30pm EST on ESPN2 or live at the Xcel Energy Center. The Gophers are loaded with talent from Minnesota, including Kyle Rau, who Wild fans may recognize as the brother of former Wild prospect Chad Rau. Chad Rau was traded to San Jose in exchange for forward Curt Gogol earlier this year as a part of an AHL trade.
As with almost any year, there’s a lot to see for fans of Minnesota hockey. At the NCAA site you can also find a live updated bracket to track throughout the tournament. You can find a full list of NHL prospects in the collegiate system here and take a look at the tourney schedule below with full broadcast information.
2014 NCAA Men’s Hockey Tournament Preliminary Round Schedule (all times Eastern)
2 p.m. — Union vs. Vermont (ESPNU)
4:30 p.m. — Ferris State vs. Colgate (ESPN3, tape-delay replay on ESPNU at 10:30)
5:30 p.m. — Quinnipiac vs. Providence (ESPNU)
8 p.m. — Wisconsin vs. North Dakota (ESPNU)
3 p.m. — Winner of Union/Vermont vs. Winner of Quinnipiac/Providence (ESPN 2)
4 p.m. — Denver vs. Boston College (ESPNU)
5:30 p.m. — Minnesota vs. Robert Morris (ESPN 2)
6:30 p.m. — Winner of Ferris State/Colgate vs. Winner of Wisconsin/North Dakota (ESPNU)
7:30 p.m. — UMass Lowell vs. Minnesota State (ESPN3, tape-delay replay on ESPNU at 11:30)
9 p.m. — Notre Dame vs. St. Cloud State (ESPNU)
5 p.m. — Winner of Denver/Boston College vs. winner of UMass Lowell/Minnesota State (ESPNU)
7:30 p.m. — Winner of Minnesota/Robert Morris vs. Winner of Notre Dame/St. Cloud (ESPNU)